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Hi! I’m Mario Richard and here’s a brief history of how I ended up in this business venture:
Like most passions, it started in my childhood where I was making small parachutes out of garbage bags for my G.I. Joe action figures. The idea was to be able to take them on any impossible mission and they would be ready for anything coming their way… Later I moved up to store-bought toy parachutes, the ones with the plastic soldiers. During lunch break at school, a bunch of us would gather and compete for the longest “air time” with those toys, packing them in different ways and throwing them as high as possible, and even packing them with little rocks so they would go higher up before “deploying” and returning to the ground. Well one sunny spring day, I shot mine up and it must have caught a small thermal rising and it didn’t come down! Actually, it kept going up and up until we all lost sight of it… I had just won the cup forever
My 1st skydive took place in 1988 on a small parachute center on the outskirts of Quebec City. I jumped from 3500 feet and the parachute deployed instantly after leaving the airplane…which had no door! I distinctly remember screaming “it worked ! it opened !!!” and upon landing I was hooked on this new sensation I never had felt before. Skydiving became an obsession, and soon after I was accumulating licenses, ratings and eventually a job as a fulltime instructor on a busy Quebec City dropzone. Life was great! I was doing anything that kept me jumping, from flying video camera, teaching 1st jump ground school, taking people on tandem jumps, packing parachutes and learning how to fix and maintain them.
Several years later I bought shares in the place and started discovering the business side of things while pursuing my new passion, flying airplanes. Over 7000 skydives later, I’m still in love with it. My favorite skydive is flying a wingsuit side by side with my wife Steph over the Moab desert scenery.
B.A.S.E jumping started for me in 1991 during the annual “Bridge Day” gathering, where the 875 foot New River Gorge bridge is opened to jumpers for one day. My first B.A.S.E. jump felt like my 1st skydive, and I was hooked on this type of jumping. Returning home after that, I ordered my first B.A.S.E. gear and started to jump eveything that was high or low enough around my home town.
Soon after, jumping became a reason to travel and visit other places where other types of jumps were taking place. Florida was one of those places where you can jump from very tall antennas. It was there that I met Marta Empinotti, the owner of a B.A.S.E. gear manufacturing company called Vertigo Base Outfitters (now Apex Base). Hanging out around the shop, I learned how to sew and she put me to work building parts for their gear. From there, it was only a matter of time before I was building complete systems and playing with patterns to make them better, testing new designs and coming up with new ideas for this relatively new and evolving sport. B.A.S.E jumping was really starting to pick up speed during the 90s and it was pretty cool to be part of it.
In 2000, the company moved from Florida to Moab and I followed. Moab is the perfect playground for this sport and so few jump spots had been discovered at that time. Working all week then venturing out and opening new exit points on the weekend, it was a amazing time and still very few jumpers would come to Moab to enjoy it all. The entire place was ours to discover !
Now with 20 years of B.A.S.E jumping experience , 10 years in Moab, over 2000 B.A.S.E jumps all over the world, several stunt jobs and events later, it’s time for the next step in this ever-evolving passion for parachutes : Tandem B.A.S.E jumping from the Moab cliffs!